Letting Your Blog Verbs Breathe

Even if you’re not into verbifying your nouns (the topic of my latest Say it For You blog post), at least let the verbs you do use, b-r-e-a-t-h-e, is my advice to content writers. “Don’t smother verbs”, Mary Cullen writes in 87 Advanced business Writing Tips That Actually Work. 

The three cautions Cullen offers are:
  1. Use clear words rather than using punctuation to emphasize your point.
  2. Don’t smother verbs by changing them into nouns (this is called nominalizing, the opposite of verbifying).
  3. Don’t overuse adverbs; instead, use stronger verbs.
Weak sentences frequently begin with “There is” or There are…”, Cullen explains.  Cut to the chase, she advises.  Find the real subject – and the real verb expressing what’s happening – and start there. Just as over-introducing a speaker takes away from, rather than enhancing, the impact of the talk itself, in your blog content, get to it, I teach at Say It For You.
Composing a blog post can be like creating a resume, in that it’s better to opt for strong, positive verbs. More verbs make for more dynamic blog content. Verbs connote activity and excitement, advises Bits.blogs.nytimes.  

“Good writing has a point, a goal – to sell something, to convince someone of something, or to explain how to do something, but whatever the point, the goal informs every line., says Dustin Wax of lifehack.org.” Strong verbs move readers in the direction of that goal.
Powerful writing is compelling, demanding attention, Wax continues, in any of three ways
  • the force of the argument
  • the importance of the topic
  • the strength of the language
My point today – now you’ve discovered the strength verbs can lend to your content, don’t sabotage that strength with adverbs and cumbersome wording – let your blog verbs

Verbifying For Blog Marketing

‘It’s an interesting question and there are opposing sides in the business world about whether ‘verbifying’ a brand or product is a good thing or not,” observes Mike Hovan of Fast Company. Lawyers hate it (verbifying might risk the legal power of a trademark); marketers believe it represents the ultimate compliment, showing a personal connection between consumer and brand. Whatever your take, verbifying is certainly being done. “We ballpark, we partner, we eyeball, fast track leverage, and we green-light,” Hovan points out. Even outside of business, we water the flower bed and box up clothes.
Verbifying nouns is hardly new news, the author of one of my favorite blogs, grammarly.com   explains.
In fact, the practice dates back as far as 1871!  Common examples (yes, each of these was born as a noun!) include:
  • dress
  • fool
  • host
  • drink
  • mail
  • sleep
  • style
No one knows why some nouns mutate into verbs while others do not, says Helen Sword in Opinionator. “We horse around, outfox our enemies, parrot a phrase, and mouse over a hyperlink. However, we do not penguin or giraffe,” she adds.
As a blog content writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about ways to use words. My conclusion is that verbification can serve a positive role – more verbs make for more dynamic blog content.  Why?
  1. Verbs connote activity and excitement more than nouns.
  2. If a verbified noun catches on, readers will repeat it to others.
  3. Blog writing is best when informal and conversational, and verbifying helps accomplish a humorous, light tone.
Especially when it comes to boosting smaller companies. I believe verbification of the business brand can be an actual goal of the marketing strategy
Try this blog writing verbification challenge: Find a noun that applies to your product or service, one you can turn into a verb.  Then, introduce it in a blog post and then repeat frequently in posts, tweets, and promotions.  Stir and serve….

Does Unconscious Awareness Play a Part in B2B Blog Marketing?

The discovery of unconscious meanings attached to products and services allows advertisers to design appeals to tap those motivations, the authors of Persuasion in Advertising explain. In our last Say It For You blog post, we explored ways in which unconscious awareness plays a role in both the blog marketing of products as compared with using blogs to market professional services…
Is there a difference in the way blog marketing should best be sued to market B2B as compared to B2C marketing? Joshua Nite of TopRank makes a number of observations concerning business-to-business marketing, four of which are very much in keeping with practices we teach at Say It For You:

1.  It’s never been more important for brands to show purpose.
For blogs to be effective, they must serve as positioning statements. The “visit” has to conclude with readers understanding exactly what your particular philosophy or mission is. Effective blog posts must go from information-dispensing to offering the business owner’s (or the professional’s, or the organizational executive’s) unique perspective on issues related to the search topic.

2. On a chart ranking traits that B2B buyers value in salespeople, problem solving is near the top, while creativity is at the bottom of the list.
Business executives (or their staff members) are online searching for answers to their questions or solutions for dilemmas they’re facing.  Or, they might need a particular kind of service and aren’t sure who offers that.  Or maybe they need a product to fill a need they have.  Don’t think of it as business blogging; think of it as providing solutions to someone’s problem.

3.  Business customers see value in maintaining relationships with influencers.
In blog marketing, therefore, the content writer must “interview” the influencer, asking the right questions so as to elicit thoughtful, detailed responses, positioning the company owner or practitioner as a thought leader, someone who defines purpose in a marketplace craving direction.   In a face-to-face (or Skype) interview with a business owner or executive (or professional practitioner), I am able to capture their ideas and some of their words, then add “framing” with my own questions and introductions, to create a blog post more compelling and “real” than the typical narrative text.

4. With news about the COVID-19 pandemic dominating the internet, B2B marketers must be careful not to sound too opportunistic.
Even though today’s most searched-for topic may not be what is most often talked about tomorrow, I teach at Say It For You, you can benefit readers by tying your blog content to popular topics. While the focus of your business blog will be on the business owners and the services, advice, and products they offer, the content can reflect current happenings and concerns.

On the other hand, “content has to contribute value and fit organically within the cultural context of your target audience. Otherwise, you risk appearing opportunistic and losing their trust,” skyword.com cautions. COVID-19 is a perfect example of a topic that must be incorporated in blog marketing only to the extent it is relevant to the solutions the marketer is offering.
At Say It For You, where we create content to market to both businesses and to consumers, we know that in both cases, our main goal is to raise prospects’ awareness of solutions to the issues that drove their online search. Just as, in marketing to consumers, we are not aiming for an immediate sale, the same is true for B2B marketing. We blog content writers keep on telling our client’s story in its infinite variations over long periods of time, knowing that the readers (whether consumers or businesses) who end up as clients and customers have self-selected rather than having been “sold”.

Blog Content Appeals to Unconscious and Conscious Awareness

Decades ago, Sigmund Freud argued that there are meanings, highly significant to humans, but which are obscured from immediate awareness. The discovery of those unconscious meanings attached to products and services allows advertisers to design appeals to tap those motivations, the authors of Persuasion in Advertising explain.

The concept of “selling to the unconscious” as Joel Weinberger writes in Brandingmag.com, is no longer “new news”.  In fact, in purchasing products and services, unconscious processing is as least as important in human decision-making, Weinberger stresses. We blog content writers should find Weinberger’s analysis of the difference between the way consumers choose products compared to the way they choose services to be especially relevant to our work. If a purchase is likely to be a thought-out decision that is not repeated often, he teaches, messaging should focus on conscious values; if a purchase is something that is frequent, or just happens, messaging should focus on unconscious values.

“Conscious thought has but a minority stake in the human decision making process, “ beyondreason.com emphasizes. Traditional marketing tends to neglect the sub-conscious, the authors say, but that is not where many decisions are made. Most marketing practices, they add, “polish the pros, muffle the cons, and sometimes inject some emotions.” In the end, they caution, “science-based marketing evolution cannot be avoided”.

Tangible products are often thought to be easier to market, observes fiftyfiveandfive.com, They can be shown, demonstrated, touched, and displayed.  Services, on the other hand, are intangible, and it can be harder to show value. Besides, unlike products, once services have been consumed, they cannot be resold or reused.

Arke disagrees, pointing out that both service and product-based organizations compete on the quality of both products and services in terms of the customer experience. On the other hand, Arke points out, when people are involved, there is room for error and inconsistency.

At Say It For You, where we create content to market both products and services, we know that our main goal is to raise prospects’ awareness of solutions. Since, in practical terms, we are not aiming for an immediate sale, we blog content writers keep on telling the business’ or the practice’s story in its infinite variations over long periods of time, knowing that, to a certain extent, the readers who end up as clients and customers have self-selected rather than having been “sold”.

In fact, when you’re composing business blog content, I teach at Say It For You, imagine readers asking themselves (perhaps on a subconscious level) – “How will I use the product (or service)?” “How will I feel?”

Best Blog Content Writers Read Around and Toggle

“Dreams, I’m convinced, are just one more dimension of our minds,” writes Sylvia Browne in her best-seller, Book of Dreams...

At Say It For You, I teach the principle of “reading around” in order to attain “go-to industry authority”.  In fact, I stress, business bloggers are going to need to spend at least as much time reading as writing. Even after almost a decade and a half creating blog content for business owners and practitioners, I continue to need to keep up on what others are saying on the topic, what’s in the news, and what problems and questions have been surfacing that relate to what my client sells and what it does for its clients. At least half the time that goes into creating a post is reading/research/thinking time, I’ve found. The writing part can flow only after prep time is complete.

Just last month, I quoted Carina Rampell of the Content Marketing Institute, who explains that our reading needn’t be limited to the subject of our blog content.  Poetry, she explains, can teach us clarity and precision, while the classics can teach us compelling storytelling structure. Browsing through the Sylvia Browne book on dream interpretation (hardly my usual choice of reading topic!) made me realize the truth of Rampell’s statement that “reading helps us get away from our subject or product expertise and unlock our creativity”.  

Every dream experience, Browne posits, is one of five kinds:
  • the prophetic dream
  • the release dream
  • the wish dream
  • the information or problem-solving dream
  • astral visits
“Knowing what type of dream I’m trying to interpret, Browne explains, “is always my first step in unlocking its mysteries.”

Business blog posts also come in different varieties.  From the content writers’ point of view, I’s generally a good idea to toggle back and forth among those varieties over time, keeping returning visitors engaged, but also in order to appeal to different types of reader. There are “how-to” tutorial posts, resources and link lists, reviews, opinion pieces, interviews, case studies, breaking news, and personal story posts. But, precisely as Sylvia Browne observes, knowing what type of post you are presenting helps unlock its “success”.

The best blog content writers have learned to read around and then – toggle among the types!